Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hatin' on Presta

Presta valves should only be available by prescription in the United States. Every day, thousands of bike shop employees are called on to explain and apologize for that weird little metal demon that stands between so many hapless riders and proper tire inflation.

Filling a tire with a presta valve is simple. Remove the cap (if you bother to use it), unscrew the little metal tip on the valve core, shove the pump head on there (thumb lock it if your pump has a thumb lock), inflate to the desired pressure, remove the pump, screw the core shut and you're ready to ride.

That process is discouraging enough. If the rider wants to use a compressor with a common air chuck, then they have to use the dreaded Presta Valve Adapter. Now it gets really complicated. Remove the cap, unscrew the little middle part, thread the adapter on the right way around, inflate with the air hose, remove the adapter, screw the little middle part shut and off you go.


Over a long career in the bike business we strive for the right balance of education and commiseration. Some riders learn readily and become Presta People. It's the Attack of the Presta People! Look at them with their weird little tire valves! Others are completely disgusted by the inexplicably complicated device. We adjust our approach to find the customer's comfort zone.

For the Presta haters I say something like, "Yeah, someone ought to get into a time machine and go back and find the guy who invented that thing and kill him as a child so he'll never grow up to invent it." Or I'll say it was invented by Napoleon as part of his quest for world domination and somehow survived to the present day.

The best news a presta hater can get is that we can drill out most rims and change the tubes to end their torment forever.


Steve A said...

"Presta is besta." - another Bike Ed lie.

cafiend said...

I like presta. I use presta. I can't really tell you how it's massively better than Schrader. The smaller hole might weaken a rim less... other than that, I happen to have a really great old Silca pump that only does presta, so I have presta tubes in all my tires. I recently unearthed a convertible presta-Scrader head for that Silca pump in the shop archives.I might put it on my old pump. Not sure if I can get service parts for it, though.

rorowe said...

I use Presta on my "fred bike" only because that's what it came with. The shop guys did have to teach me how to use them briefly the first time...
I like to think my pump is idiot-proof, as it still works.

Kenny said...

Presta valves are Fr*nch.

'Nuff said.

maxrad said...


Guys, we live in a pluralistic world. Metric or BSC. Coke or Pepsi. Regular or Premium. Shorts or Bibs. Mac or PC.

Sometimes there are multiple standards. The world does not end as a result.

If my four-year-old could learn how to use both types of valve, I'm pretty sure you can, too. And as far as compressors go, you could always try popping on a $4 Presta chuck.